Rock star killer of French actress wins early release

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PARIS, Oct 15 (Reuters) French rock star Bertrand Cantat will be freed tomorrow after serving just half of an eight-year jail sentence for killing his actress girlfriend, his lawyer said today.

Cantat, lead singer with the rock group Noir Desir, punched and hit Marie Trintignant during a quarrel in a Lithuanian hotel in July 2003. She fell into a coma and died shortly afterwards. The singer was found guilty of manslaughter by a court in Vilnius, and was transferred to France to serve his sentence.

''I am delighted with this decision, which will allow Bertrand Cantat to rebuild his future,'' his lawyer Olivier Metzner said after a judge ruled Cantat could be released early for good behaviour.

Under the terms of his probation, the singer will have to undergo psychological treatment for a year and be banned from mentioning the case on stage or in any other audiovisual form.

Trintignant, the daughter of movie star Jean-Louis Trintignant, was in Vilnius to make a film directed by her mother Nadine and her violent death deeply shocked France.

Her mother wrote to President Nicolas Sarkozy, a law and order hardliner, in an failed effort to ensure Cantat remained in jail.

She said Cantat's release was premature and sent the wrong signal about violence against women.

Cantat has already compensated two of his late girlfriend's four children and the production company behind the television film in which Trintignant was starring at the time of her death.

The money was in part raised from receipts from a live album put together by Noir Desir members while Cantat was in prison.

Reuters SKB GC1611

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